Here. Have a pep talk from a Prophet of God. (Grab a tissue)

Gordon B. Hinckley: Prophet of God.

(If you would like to hear the talk without any of the music, which I would rather post, then go here and these remarks start at 9:48)


Lessons from a genius: Arthur Henry King

Arthur Henry King by Nathan Florence

Wow! The new semester starts, with new classes and a new calling, and my blogging goes down the drain! I made a goal this week with some wonderful new friends that I would blog, though, so I planned all week to get here.

I met with a member of our Stake Presidency a month ago, and we got talking about our common interests in philosophy and education. He pointed me towards a book, Arm the Children, by Arthur Henry King. It is a book of speeches and papers Brother King wrote on teaching and having faith in the contemporary world. From what I understand, Arthur Henry King converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was later in his life. He was raised Quaker (which I assume led to his unique perspective on some of our cultural habits), in England, where he learned to love the hundred books or so that his home held. From the love of reading those few books he went on to become the predominant scholar of Shakespeare in the world at his time. At one point he became something akin to the Deputy Director of Education for all the United Kingdoms. He traveled the world to many colonies of the UK to help them develop their education system to become stronger. Along the way, and from study, Brother King learned 17 languages. He became a master of etymology and literature. He truly was a genius.

I’m not exactly sure how he become in contact with the church. Surely, as he traveled the world he had heard of the Mormon church. He wrote that what converted him was the account by Joseph Smith of the events leading up to and including the First Vision. Everyone ought to read his talk on Joseph Smith as an author, it is one of the best I have ever read. He taught that Joseph Smith wrote in such a way that just by his writing Brother King knew Joseph Smith was not lying or cheapening his own experience through persuasion or over-the-top rhetoric. By the language of the prophet alone he knew it was true, and at over 50 years old he was baptized and joined the church. Soon after the prophet asked him to come to BYU and help give the students a perspective of the gospel from the world. He did that, starting in the English department, then the Philosophy department, and finally ending in the Honors Program, until he passed away ten years ago. Many of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used to quote him in General Conference talks and devotionals at BYU. He also wrote many articles in the Ensign back in the 70’s. According to this member of my Stake Presidency, at one point an apostle said that Arthur Henry King was a hidden gem of the church that more members need to become acquainted with and read. It has been a pleasure to read from his wisdom and faith. Here are some of the wonderful lessons and excerpts that I have enjoyed from Arm the Children over this past month:

P. 30 – “[Matthew] Arnold believed that art had to fill the gap left by the decline of religion and therefore had to take over the moral function that religion had previously had. The idea that instead of having a religious faith one could live from poetry, from fine art, from music was a common among undergraduates and academics when I was a young man; I think it may still be a common idea.”

P. 37 – “The Doctrine and Covenants is an extraordinary document, and, of the documents the Mormon Church had to offer me, it was the one which, after the Joseph Smith story, impressed me most. The Doctrine and Covenants legislates for a new religious community, and the way in which its revelations apply to the details of people’s lives seemed right to me. There has to be a connection between testimony, revelation, and ordinary practical life.”

P. 48 – “[ . . . ] Our Father does not require obedience; he requires willing obedience. And our faith should give us wiling obedience. It it does not, then there is something wrong that we must struggle to put right by prayer and thought.”

P. 68 – “I learned early that patriotism does not connote slavishly following your country in all things. Patriotism does not mean, “My country right or wrong.” That is moral nonsense. But it means, “My country insofar as it remains faithful to God’s purpose.” A true patriot doesn’t pretend not to notice when his country goes wrong. He doesn’t say, “All is well,” when all is not well [ . . . ] A true patriot says, “I love my country, and, therefore, I will do my best for my country. I will place my abilities at the disposal of my country; I will try to improve my country.” A true patriot is prepared to help humbly bring his country back on to the right track again.”

P. 123-4 – “I believe that the more we know about our ancestors–the way they lived, the history of their times, there language and culture–the more chance we have that they will accept the gospel. I am sure that is so because if we turn our hearts towards them, they should turn their hearts toward us. That is one of the things that Malachi means.”

P. 130 – “We must remember that we should judge in such a way that we shall not mind being judged in the same way. That is the point. To commit ourselves to a judgment is to be prepared to have someone else commit himself by judging us.”

P. 143 – “Self-forgetfulness is at the heart of sincerity. That means that if we try to force sincerity, we shall merely produce insincerity and hypocrisy. Once we start being self-conscious, we can’t be true. Any self-conscious effort to express things is always against the grain. To attempt self-consciously to speak or write well means to fail; it is to forget that we are members one of another. [ . . . ] This has everything to do with being righteous [ . . . ] We have to learn to be sincere. We have to try, just as we have to try to repent all our lives. It is an ongoing process. And eventually we can reach the point where we don’t have to think about it. It comes spontaneously.”

P. 149 – “If we do something spontaneously and it is a good thing, then it will be virtue unto us. But if we have to think whether to do it or not, if we have to reflect for even one moment, then the element of potential sin has entered because we are doubtful about what we ought not to be doubtful about. We ought to know what to do it situations. The right way to follow the Master is the way he teaches.”

P. 159-60 – “The best literature of our times (outside the gospel) is miserable, uncertain, vicious, uncertain, cynical, uncertain, sardonic, uncertain. And it is no accident that this is the case. The reason is that faith has gone out to a lower ebb than it has ever been at before in Western civilization [ . . . ] Only the bad literature of our time is “happy,” and it is bad because the happiness is synthetic. Bad literature tries to be happy with “romance” outside the gospel, and that is impossible.”

P. 274 – “There is elitism on campus: athletic, social (clubs), and political (BYUSA officers and their staff). True, BYUSA officers do not have as much power as comparable officers at other universities, but in that very absence of power, they have exemplified empty elitism. They need to be made honest by being chosen, as Church officers are. Ours is not a democratic church. Why this imitation of apostate universities, an imitation of the world not necessitated by being in the world? Cannot the Lord’s university be spared the unspeakable vulgarity of childishly run elections on which most sensible students turn their backs?”

P. 322 – “Those of us who have helped to build up the evil pressures in society or who neglect to do our best to combat them are partly responsible for the crimes that result from those pressures.”

P. 346-7 (Last paragraph of the book) – “Self-forgetfulness is the key to wholeness, to becoming at one with God’s world, and each individual must become whole. The individual is of supreme importance. The individual is from everlasting to everlasting. But the individual exists by virtue of others’ individuality. And that is why I say that individuals develop as they forget themselves, they do not develop by asserting themselves or thinking of themselves. And that’s the fundamental thing about this soul of ours: if we can be at peace with ourselves and be at peace within the group, we can be so most readily by remembering that, as members one of another, we gain by remembering others and forgetting ourselves. Fundamentally, such remembering and forgetting is what love is all about.”

What do you think?

Why do we need priesthood blessings? Why isn’t faith enough?

At church today we learned about the priesthood Heavenly Father has given us on this earth. I had a question about why we needed priesthood blessings for sickness and why faith was not good enough to take care of us (as the title suggests). These are some of the conclusions my priesthood quorum came to in response.

For one thing it helps the priesthood holder to give blessings. It requires them to be obedient and faithful at all times because they know they have the ability to work in God’s behalf, with His authority and power, to serve His children.

Also, we do need faith, but we need to also act on the faith. It’s like saying that if you believe in Christ then that is enough and you do not need to be baptized. But, actions are just as important as having faith. We must make our covenants with God and we must show our faith through giving and receiving priesthood help.

Through giving and receiving priesthood blessings we also learn to respect the authority and power that God has and that He is willing to give us. Through this we learn that He is a completely just God, and will keep up His promises to us as we live obediently.

On top of all of the previous things, we are simply commanded to use the priesthood in serving our fellow man.

Lastly, We have the opportunity through priesthood blessings to help others in seeking salvation. Through the priesthood they become divinely tapped into Heavenly Father’s power, grace, mercy and love, which all move that person (and often times the priesthood bearer) toward Heavenly Father more. Through the blessings received at the hands of someone else we learn that Heavenly Father has provided the means for Him to act directly through someone, which humbles the receiver and the giver.

D&C 84:33-39, “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sactified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.”

Why do we serve?

Why do we serve?

­Everything in this life, within the gospel, the church, and all the creations of the earth are provided for one reason. And that reason is to have infinite happiness by becoming increasingly like our Heavenly Father. We see this in the scriptures: 2 Ne. 2:25, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy,” That’s the infinite happiness part. Moses 1:39, “For behold this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. What does that mean, eternal life of man? John 17:3, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Eternal life is more than just living forever; it is the kind of life God has and He wants us to have it. He wants us to become like Him, to think as He thinks, to act as He does, to know what He knows, and be able to do many things He can do.

We find that eternal life is to live like Heavenly Father. We are to become like God, and then we will have eternal life. Therefore, when we speak of the straight and narrow path we are not talking about a trail where we simply have to put in our physical time and become eternal. But, it is a path of practicing and becoming eternal, to gain line upon line and precept upon precept, until we are like our Savior, who is like our Father in Heaven. 2 Ne. 9:38-39, “ . . . Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” Thus, as we look at the world, we can see how much the Lord has provided for us to be spiritually-minded and become like Christ through serving.

We repent through getting baptized, where we clean the slate of previous mistakes, and partaking of the sacrament, where we promise with the Lord to continually work at becoming Christ-like.

We become Christ-like through practice – that practice comes through serving. Serving is the means where we reach eternal life. We are to practice what we preach and learn charity, patience, faith, hope, obedience, humility, virtue, diligence, and knowledge of the gospel.

Creation provides us the setting for our probation of repentance. Alma 12:24. We are put on probation from the Lord due to our lack of being like Him with eternal life.  This probation on earth is for us to repent of that condition and become like Him.

Eph. 4: 13, it has all been prepared for us, “ . . . Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

D&C 50:24, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”

Moroni 7:45-48

The Book of Jer3miah: Season 2

With the finale of LOST still fresh in everyone’s mind, we all wonder where we will invest our critical analysis skills next. Luckily, Jer3miah is going to start their second season soon. If you haven’t ever heard of Jer3miah then you should check out their website Watch the trailer for Season 1, and then watch the entire season (the episodes are all under 10 minutes each). It’s pretty awesome what these film students are producing. There has been a TON of praise for it (i.e. The New York Times covered it!).

I’m terribly excited for the second season. And today I found the teaser for it was posted online 7 months ago! What’s funny is I ran into Jared, aka “Jeremiah”, on campus very recently and I asked him what he knew about a second season. I thought it was pretty suspicious how he deflected with complete ignorance on the matter and spoke of how complicated it is to coordinate producers, directors, writers and the like. Of course, the whole time he was smiling. So here is the highly anticipated trailer! Enjoy!